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Syria conflict reaches a new level

Syria conflict reaches a new level
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It is another day of intense fighting in the Syrian capital Damascus – amid signs this conflict could be moving into an end game.

Across the country, the rebels appear to be gaining ground and are sending reinforcements to the capital while 20 Syrian army chiefs are reported to have defected to Turkey overnight.

In Damascus, the army has regained control of the Midan district which was in rebel hands last night but fierce fighting was ongoing in Jobar. The Qanawat police station was said to be on fire and, like many others, deserted.

A witness said a military barracks which opposition sources said was used as a training ground for shabbiha militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad had been torched after a two-day siege.

The opposition says it was ready for this assault, building up its arsenals in preparation. As for the civilian population, thousands are heading for the border to escape the violence.

Many of the border crossings with Turkey and Iraq are now said to be in rebel hands. Iraqi authorities say they have shut the border on their side.

However, the Syrian army has launched a major offensive to try to regain crossing points and there are also major battles reported in the country’s second city, Aleppo.